Approval; January 11, 2020

John 5:44 “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”

Jesus is here talking to the religious leaders, and particularly to the Pharisees, whom today we would think of as “Bible-believing Christians.” Their highest honor was to be on the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a political as well as a religious body, and politicians are particularly sensitive to the opinions of others. The Sanhedrin wasn’t chosen by open elections among the people the way legislatures in democracies are, but it was still a very exclusive club into which you had to be invited. They were all doubtless concerned about the praise of their peers. Jesus was pointing out that such a focus took them out of the realm of the spiritual entirely, regardless of how religious they seemed. If we fail to seek the praise of God we are operating on strictly human rules, whatever terminology we might use. That’s what Jesus was talking about when He referred to God’s righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) Seeking God’s righteousness means seeking to live so that He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21, 23) That isn’t something we can do once and be done with it, but something we need to do consistently, day after day after day. Frankly, we can get tired of following God, when things don’t turn out the way our human imaginations would like them to. That’s what “faithful” is all about: dogged determination and obedience regardless of circumstances. When our focus is on pleasing God, we will find that our faith grows more than we realize, because we aren’t believing in faith, we are believing in the One who is before and beyond and above all things, because He created it all.

I enjoy the praise and approval of others as much as anyone, so I must be careful not to make that my goal. I desire great, mountain-moving faith, but I have seen many people who seem to have faith in faith, even more than faith in God Himself. Like the father of the epileptic boy, I find myself crying out, “Lord, I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) My focus has got to be on my Lord, caring about what He thinks of me and not about much else. I am often reminded that everything physical is temporary, so making that my treasure is futile. However, approval isn’t physical, and it can be very seductive. There have been times when I have actually fantasized about the eulogies at my funeral, being hungry for the praise of men. What foolishness! My heart needs to be fixed on my Lord, and what He says of me.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I do care what people think of me. That’s not wrong, but help me care far more what You think of me, so that Your will may reign in my life. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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